Country of Origin Labeling of meat officially begins this week, six years after the legislation was passed. Some meat packers who co-mingle product from the U.S., Canada and Mexico want to label all their meat as "North American. Undersecretary of Agriculture Bruce Knight says that is probably beyond the intent of Congress.
"It certainly is a more liberal interpretation than we had in writing the rule at USDA as Secretary Schafer has stated," Knight says.
According to Knight it will take some time to resolve this issue of what will be permissible on the parts of meat packers.
"What we are intending to do is survey the practices, work with folks to see how much the flexibility that's provided, which is legitimate, is needed and being able to co-mingle some product," Knight says. "The real challenge is how much is the appropriate level."